Villanova looks to future instead of at failed title defense
By DAN GELSTON
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Check all the Xs in the office pool and just-for-fun brackets and defending national champion Villanova and Duke are two of the biggest names eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats and Blue Devils would have been a matchup fit for the marquee at Madison Square Garden.
But instead of getting the equivalent of Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz, MSG has to sell seats for the regional final with Wisconsin and South Carolina potentially in the main event. For entertainment value, may as well go watch a Nets-Knicks game instead and hope Charley Oakley is in the house.
No Nova. No Duke. How much does that stink for the Wildcats?
"It does. More Nova than Duke," coach Jay Wright said to laughter.
The Wildcats (32-4) saw their chance at becoming the first repeat champions since Florida in 2007 evaporate when they were upset by eighth-seeded Wisconsin. Now they're headed home instead of toward their home away from home in New York.
Wright didn't have the stomach to watch any tourney games on Sunday. Neither did most of his players. Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins made plans to hit a Chick-fil-A on Wednesday instead of studying a scouting report.
"Our careers, we gave everything we could," Hart said.
Hart, a Naismith Player of the Year finalist, Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds gave their names to the Villanova record book over four-year careers that boasted 129 wins, the most in program history.
Four Big East championships.
Two conference tournament championships.
And they never lost two straight games - and won 48 straight at the Pavilion. They also went 16-0 against the Big 5 (Temple, La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's).
Oh yes, the 2016 national championship won when Jenkins buried a 3 at the buzzer to topple North Carolina.
"We didn't end our careers the way we wanted to," Jenkins said. "But we had great careers and we're proud of that."
But the (asterisk) next to their names is the three opening weekend flops that knocked out Nova as a 1 or 2 seed three times in the last four years. The national championship eases the rest of the first-weekend misery, but the Wildcats left have left a hefty amount of postseason chips on the table.
"Not to make light of it, but there are a lot more serious things in the world," Wright said. "You've got to try and think about that."
Wright can take a day or two and then think about how the Wildcats should keep rolling next season. Hart (18.7 points) and Jenkins (13.1 points) will chase pro careers - Hart is an NBA draft pick, Jenkins may play in Europe - but Donte DiVincenzo, Mikal Bridges, Eric Paschall and a healthy Phil Booth should again make the Wildcats the Big East favorites. They will also add a pair of top 50 high school recruits.
Jalen Brunson's return is the lone hang-up in Villanova's offseason planning. Brunson, the sensational sophomore point guard, averaged 14.7 points, shot 54 percent from the field, had 148 assists and could bolt for the NBA. Brunson, the son of former NBA player Rick Brunson, has not told Wright his decision.
"I'm going to sit down with Jalen and his parents in the next day or so," Wright said. "They don't really need my advice. I trust any decision they would make."
The Pavilion is set to undergo a $25 million renovation that will force the Wildcats to play home games next season at the Wells Fargo Center (home of the 76ers) and perhaps other local gyms.
The Wildcats are ready to return to campus in `18 - and Wright should be there on the bench. Wright again brushed off questions that he could head elsewhere and seems happy to coach Villanova for life.
But imagine a franchise down the road from campus that courted Wright once before coming off a sixth straight losing season but with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the roster and looking for a new leader ...
"When people talk to you about a job, it's flattering," Wright said. "Honestly, I'd like it better if it wouldn't happen because I know I don't want to go. I love it here."
Wright and the Wildcats can rest up this summer. There will be another team at the White House, the ESPYs and making the rounds at banquets around the state.
"I was so proud of how they handled the repeat talk all season," Wright said. "I guess we'll never know if it affected them in the tournament because it didn't last long enough."
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
Updated March 20, 2017
We had an impromptu visit from Peter King from SI / MMQB to our Fenway Studios and decided to talk some NFL and Patriots with him.
Pete talks with The Senator, Phil Perry about the Patriots trading for Dwayne Allen, ruling out a return to New England for Martellus Bennett. They also talk about the potential future of Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and some of the big names in NFL free agency
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Dale, Holley and Rich Keefe discuss NBA lottery pick Lonzo Ball with his very outspoken father Lavar Ball. The guys touch on the Celtics, his feud with his sons' high school coach, Lonzo being better than Steph Curry and much more.
Kirk, Gerry, and Alex Reimer discuss whether or not Isaiah Thomas will win a title in Boston.
Gerry, Kirk, and Trenni react to the Celtics loss against the Suns.
Joe Castiglione and Tim Neverett talked to the Sox left fielder, who had five hits in the Sox win in Baltimore.
Joe and Tim talk with Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts after he provided the big hit in the 10th inning driving in 3 runs as the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 4-1. Mookie talks about playing behind a pitcher like Chris Sale, and the amount of strikeouts from Sale lightens his work in the outfield.
In the final hour Christian talks about the Celtics and their poor performance and how they can not let a player like Rondo beat them. The Aaron Hernandez saga in Christian's opinion is similar to a TV show. In the late night low light a mystic has predicted that WW3 will be starting in a few weeks and Christian wonders how do you become a mystic and can you make a career out of it.
Hour 4. The guys think the Globe was looking for more with Brady, possibly a Trump connection. Crazy Al joins the show multiple times.
Hour 3. Gerry and Mut defend Brady while Kirk thinks it’s a little suspicious. Callers weigh in on the Tome Brady piece. Climate marches are taking place across the country.
Hour 2. Gerry, Kirk, and Mut discuss the Celtics win against the Bulls and continue their conversation about Brady and Best Buddies. Headlines with Kirk features a new accusation against Sean Hannity.
HOUR - The last hour of the show was all over the place as the guys did a dry rehearsal of a wacky video they're supposed to record next week. They also look at the biggest games in the NFL next year, and Fauria rips off "Keefer Madness" with his "Fauria Euphoria."
HOUR 3 - The guys get into expectations for the Celtics who are down 2-0 to the Rajon Rondo-less Bulls. They also wonder how much the Celtics are listening to Brad Stevens. Christian is excited for Caitlyn Jenner's nude spread.
HOUR 2 - News breaks that Rajon Rondo is out indefinitely with a fractured thumb. Rondo was dynamite in game 2. The guys discuss whether or not the Celtics now stand a chance.
Last two hours focused on our winter teams as they struggle in their first round match-ups.
Finish out the week on Freestyle Friday talking mostly about the Aaron Hernandez suicide and how it will affect his family in hour #2.
Hour One of freestyle Friday focused mostly on the Celtics and their matchup vs the now Rondo-less Bulls.
Kirk Minihane, Springsteen super fan, is joined by Garry W. Tallent, founding member of the E Street Band. Kirk and Garry talk about what it's like on tour with Bruce, how the band goes about selecting songs for the tour, Garry's projects away from the band, and Garry's upcoming solo tour that will bring him to the New England area.
Kirk Minihane, future radio hall of famer, sits down with current radio hall of famer Howie Carr. Kirk and Howie talk about Howie's latest book Kennedy Babylon. If you like famous people engaging in sex scandals, hard drug taking, and murder this is the podcast for you. Its a fascinating look at Boston's most famous family and the problems that took the family down.
Kirk Minihane, host and overlord of the morning show, brings Gerry Callahan and producers Chris and Ken into the studio to hear his show proposal. Kirk is thinking about making some changes to the morning show and wants to hear his crew's opinion.
Ben sits down with Diego Fagundez to talk about Diego's rise through the ranks of the academy, his accomplishment of reaching 10,000 minutes as a homegrown player, and how he has evolved his game.
Rich and Ben discuss the Celtics poor performances in Games 1 & 2, how we have to change our predictions, Rajon Rondo's thumb injury, and who is to blame for the terrible start to the series.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap the entire week of K&C shows in one mega Friday edition
Danny talks about the Red Sox and Orioles game and the fireworks in the 8th inning when Matt Barnes threw at Manny Machado. Pedroia was shown talking to Machado saying he wouldn't have thrown at his head and Danny wants to know how bad does this make Pedroia look throwing a teammate under the bus.More from this show
Michele McPhee joins Kirk, Gerry, and Alex to talk about Hernandez’s suicide and the accusation that she may have contributed to his suicide.More from this show
Hour 4. While discussing what kind of music Aaron Hernandez may have liked, the guys realize they hate musicals. Robert Kennedy Jr. has voice spasms. The week ends with a tragedy.More from this show
Hour 3. A game by game breakdown of the Patriots schedule. Kirk has the Patriots losing 12 games. There is breaking news that Hernandez left a note for his gay jailhouse lover.More from this show
Kirk Minihane, Springsteen super fan, is joined by Garry W. Tallent, founding member of the E Street Band. Kirk and Garry talk about what it's like on tour with Bruce, how the band goes about selecting songs for the tour, Garry's projects away from the band, and Garry's upcoming solo tour that will bring him to the New England area.More from this show